“As a mother this is heartbreaking,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Saturday of the Trump administration’s family separation policy and of imminent nationwide round-ups of thousands of migrants.
“My eight-year-old son asked me if he was born in America. And when I reassured him – I said, ‘Of course you were’ – then he looked at his brother and said ‘Well, was he born here?’ Because he was afraid that our family will be separated.”
No showers. Not even a toothbrush. No water. Not enough food. No contact with their children, wives, their family of friends. No room to move. No room for beds. No permission for pillows or mats. Standing or squatting for hours on end. Steaming hot. For good.
Trump said it himself. “Great job by Border Patrol, above and beyond,” Trump wrote earlier this month, describing the camps in which kids, some very young, all of them torn from the arms of their parents, were held in what amounted to torture chambers. Those children are suffering from scabies, shingles and chickenpox in choking overcrowding, their clothes soiled, and older kids, also in detention, enlisted, or forced, to care for the very young.
“Many of these illegals aliens,” Trump continued, apparently unable to decide whether to call them illegals or aliens, “are living far better now than where they came from, and in much safer conditions.”
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Or, as Pence put it just last Friday, after snap visits to carefully selected camps, the administration of the cages “is doing its level best to provide compassionate care in a manner the American people would expect.”
I wonder about Trump and Pence. As they were trying their best this weekend to cover up the horrors of their migrant camps, as they geared up for the Sunday launch of raids on undocumented immigrants, and as the president busied himself telling Congresswomen of color to go back where they’d come from – I wondered whether the fact that the mayor of Atlanta is an African-American and a Democrat and a woman, meant that Trump and Pence need pay no attention to the depths of what her son had told her.
No. When Satan’s people come to take Trump to Hell, he’ll let them in with a smile. Because he won’t recognize them. Because they’ll greet him by telling him what a terrific job he’s doing. And because they’ll be wearing jackets with three large letters on the back: ICE.
And when Satan’s people come for Pence, they’ll come on a Sunday, when he and his family are getting ready for church. They’ll tell him that Mr. Trump needs him, on a matter of good intentions.
That will be the last the family will see of Pence.
Before the dark jackets show up, though, Trump and Pence will continue to preach to the converted, and to the unconvertable rest of us, about Judeo-Christian values. They will take stuffed-chest pride in the acts they have undertaken “in the name of Jesus.”
This might be a good time for Trump and his Evangelical beard, Pence, to take a closer look at those values of theirs, and those acts.
So they won’t be quite so surprised when they first see the gates of Hell.
When Pence went to see the McAllen, Texas, border detention camp on Friday, had he looked more closely, he might have seen two undocumented asylum seekers named Mary and Joseph, forced to flee their home country to protect their infant child from harm (Matthew 2:13-23).
Two migrant parents, who are living in fear of the edicts and crimes of a malignant narcissistic ruler, a vicious, predatory, friend-to-tyrants autocrat who is polarizing and poisoning his own country.
Pence, how could you look into the faces of those men crushed into the stench of the cage at McAllen and not see the face of Jesus?
Trump, there’s no way in Hell you’d ever come to acknowledge this, but those synagogues and churches granting sanctuary to the persecuted, are practicing in full the Judeo-Christian values of charity, compassion, and love of the stranger and the dispossessed.
As are those Jews and Christians marching and being arrested in protest at your inhumane, overwhelmingly un-Christian and baldly racist words and deeds surrounding the border.
Trump, you are telling America and the world that Jesus stands for hatred of the Other, for sadistic maltreatment of the powerless, for intentional, ostentatious malice milked for votes. In what world would Jesus see you as any kind of Christian?
That’s the thing about Pence and Trump. When Satan’s officials come to take Pence away, chances are that somewhere inside, the vice-president will realize exactly why they’re there.
But when Trump’s being dragged kicking and whining and swearing and lying and bragging and dog-whistling and victim-blaming on his way to that cage in Hell, he will never, ever, have the slightest glimmer of an idea why.